The second tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kenya is about 150 km northeast of Nairobi and is protected in the Mount Kenya National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a stand-alone extinct volcano, and the fertile soil on its lower slopes supports the market towns on the road that circles the mountain. Although it’s not as popular a climb as Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, trekkers will be well rewarded with the trek up through montane forest and giant bamboo and lobelia to the snow line.
The 2800-sq-km Mount Kenya National Park straddles the equator about 200 km northeast of Nairobi. Mount Kenya, or Kirinyaga (the shining mountain), also sometimes referred to as the black-and-white striped mountain, is the sacred mountain of the Kikuya (Gikuya) people, who believe that it is where their god ‘Ngai’ lives. The Kikuyu, who live on the slopes always build their homes facing this sacred peak.
As you drive around the road that circles Mount Kenya you will spend much of the time looking towards the mountain – however, it is often shrouded in cloud. There are some clear days; otherwise very early in the morning or just before nightfall the cloud will often lift suddenly, revealing the snow-capped peaks for a few minutes.